And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

søndag 25. desember 2011

The Herefordshire Carol

This is the truth sent from above,
The truth of God, the God of love:

- The Herefordshire Carol, traditional

One of the most beautiful Christmas carols in the English language is in my opinion This is the truth sent from above as arranged by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams in the early 20th century. The song is found in at least three renditions of varying length and the one collected and arranged by Williams comes from Herefordshire, hence commonly known as The Herefordshire Carol. Its complete text can be found here, and I bring this to you with my best wishes for a blessed Christmas.

The Herefordshire Carol is also the title of Geoffrey Hill's concluding implement of his sonnet sequence An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture in England, here taken from The Collected Poems, Penguin, 1985. Aside from the title there is little textual coherence between the two works, but since it is a beautiful poem I have added it as an extra Christmas gift.

The Herefordshire Carol

So to celebrate that kingdom: it grows
greener in winter, essence of the year;
the apple-branches musty with green fur 
In the viridian darkness of its yews

it is an enclave of perpetual vows
broken in time. Its truth shows disrepair,
disfigured shrines, their stones of gossamer,
Old Moore's astrology, all hallows,

the squire's effigy bewigged with frost,
and hobnails cracking puddles before dawn.
In grange and cottage girls rise from their beds

by candlelight and mend their ruined braids.
Touched by the cry of the iconoclast,
how the rose-window blossoms with the sun!

Merry Christmas

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